Internet Café: Grifters
There are very honest people who do not think that they have had a bargain unless they have cheated a merchant.Anatole France
People at the internet café I managed always wanted something for nothing. There were the stamp farmers, who constantly tried to leverage three stamps on a “Buy five, get one free” card for free stuff, or the “Pay for 30 minutes, stay for 2-11 hours” customers who forced us to change the rules to cease their ongoing abuse of loopholes to make paying for the time they intended to use Future-Them’s problem.
There were those who wanted to print things from their email but didn’t want to pay for computer time, because they “only needed two minutes,” why should they have to pay for 20 minutes of my time helping them print their documents.
And, of course, Fijity, who tried one of the classic grifts of “Pay with a five, demand change for a twenty,” then pitched a fit when it didn’t work. Then pitched bigger fits when called out on his previous fits. Oh man but that dude deserves to be thrown out of every business he enters. The best thing about living through two summers of Plague Times is never having to worry he might try to come back for the Stampede like he used to. Although habitually spending Stampede week in Vancouver also helped with that.
We had a policy for a while regarding tabbing. After it became clear that people would tab huge quantities of time and product then leave without paying it, considering that a future problem, but before it became clear that nothing could keep certain customers from running up tabs they did not intend to pay off that day, we tried something: we’d take their drivers’ license or similar hard-to-replace ID as collateral. Drop off your ID to run a tab, collect it when you pay. One slightly sketchy frequent flier had a habit of forgetting his ID at the end of the night. Not because he couldn’t pay (most of the time), because maybe he was smoking something that interfered with his memory. But one time he came in, mentioned that forgetting his ID over and over was kind of inconvenient for him, and maybe we could give him some free time to make up for it?
The staff member working stared at him and said “So you forget your own driver’s license and want free stuff from us because of it? How did you think that was going to go?”
See, bears are honest. Bears don’t pretend they’re owed change from a 20 when they paid with a five or claim you’re racist because the chipmunks are allowed on the patio and they aren’t. (The chipmunks are not strictly speaking welcome on the patio, the manager of that outlet was prepared to declare war on chipmunk kind, but you try keeping ambitious ‘munks away from food scraps right before hibernation season.) Bears want something to eat and then to be left alone by non-bears, and if I don’t offer the former, the latter is easy to achieve.
Which is not to say no customers will complain about anything, we’ve all seen White Lotus, but they’re less likely to grift is my point.
Nerd Farm Speed Round
Annual dusting: Once per year all the PCs had to be dusted out, and every year it seemed like I was the only one air-blasting old nerd-skin out of the cases. I mean it was a little satisfying but I did worry about inhaling during the process. I haven’t checked with all departments, but I doubt I’m the only one in charge of dealing with bears.
Tech support: Bears also don’t know how to scan immigration documents or print a file from their email but no bear has ever made that my problem.
Day drunks: This one’s a tie, really. Whether it’s a bear or someone who passed out while day-drinking and playing World of Warcraft, a bunch of more qualified people are going to come and deal with it for me.
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